06/13/2009 12:00AM

Ex-claimer Informed takes Grade 2 Californian


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - A year ago, Informed was a $25,000 claimer. Saturday, he became a Grade 2 winner with an upset victory in the at Hollywood Park. Informed ($30.20) caught 2-1 favorite Rail Trip in the final sixteenth to win the Californian by three-quarters of a length. Dakota Phone finished a head behind Rail Trip in the field of 11 older horses.

Informed's victory was the most lucrative win of the meeting for leading trainer Doug O'Neill, and further proof that the California older horse division lacks a leader. Ball Four, who won the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap last month, could only finish sixth after leading to the final turn.

Informed, a 5-year-old horse by Tiznow, ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.37. Ridden by Tyler Baze, Informed was never far from the front, stalking Ball Four, who set early fractions of 23.51 and 47.65 seconds. Ball Four and Rail Trip were as many as 3 1/2 lengths in front of the trailing pack on the backstretch, but the margin shrunk rapidly by the time the field reached the turn.

Baze urged Informed into contention with a three-wide move and got a response through the stretch. When Informed hit the wire, Baze celebrated by slapping the horse's neck five times in celebration. When Informed returned to the racetrack near the winner's circle, Baze leaned down and gave the horse a hug before giving high-fives to O'Neill's staff.

Informed has won 5 of 20 starts and $356,339. Since being claimed for $25,000 on June 26, 2008, Informed has won 3 of 11 starts. His previous wins for his current owners and trainer occurred in an allowance race at Del Mar last July and an optional claimer here in December.

The Californian was Informed's fifth start of the year, all of which have come in stakes. He was second, by a nose, in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Handicap at Santa Anita in January, but only fourth in the San Antonio Handicap there in February and seventh in the $1 million Godolphin Mile in Dubai in March. In the Grade 3 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 1, Informed finished a close fourth after setting the early pace.